Clayton Kershaw learned another lesson in his maturation on the mound: Don't give Carlos Gonzalez anything juicy to hit.
The Colorado slugger hit two homers off the NL Cy Young winner and backup catcher Wilin Rosario added another as the Rockies held off the Dodgers for an 8-5 win on Wednesday.
But those weren't even the biggest blows of the game.
No, that would belong to pinch hitter Jason Giambi, who launched a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off reliever Scott Elbert to help the Rockies take two of three from the NL-leading Dodgers.
"I had a couple of mistakes that just happened to get over the fence, which is frustrating," Kershaw said. "But that's the way it goes."
Gonzalez hit a solo shot in the fourth on a fastball from Kershaw and then lined an 85 mph slider just over the right-field fence in the eighth for a two-run homer. Rosario also hit a solo shot off Kershaw, who surrendered three homers in a game for the first time in his career.
Kershaw lasted 7 1-3 innings and gave up a season-high five runs. He was on the hook for his first loss since Aug. 7, but escaped with a no decision when the Dodgers rallied in the ninth off closer Rafael Betancourt (1-0).
"The team kept battling back. We kept giving up leads," Kershaw said. "Makes it hurt a little bit worse, for sure."
With first base open and one out in the ninth, the Dodgers really had no choice but to pitch to Giambi.
After all, Gonzalez was waiting on deck. There was no chance he was going to beat the Dodgers.
"It's a dream spot to be in _ that situation with CarGo behind you," Giambi said. "It makes a tough decision for people. You're not out of the woods walking me right there. You load the bases for CarGo? He's been so hot. I figured I'd get something to hit."
He did, too, a delicious four-seam fastball.
"I gave him a pitch to hit and he did what he's supposed to do," Elbert said. "He got me. Tip your hat."
The Rockies took a 2-1 lead into the late innings before it turned wild at Coors Field.
The Dodgers scored twice in the eighth, but Colorado bounced back for three in the bottom half for a 5-3 lead. Los Angeles then rallied in the ninth.
Betancourt gave up a single to Adam Kennedy to start the inning and then struck out the next two batters. Rather than challenge big-hitting Matt Kemp, the Rockies closer intentionally walked him to face Dee Gordon.
The plan backfired as Gordon delivered a two-run double to right. Perhaps earlier in the game, Gordon's hit might have been just a single. But with Michael Cuddyer playing deep in right, a hustling Kemp was waved home by third base coach Tim Wallach. Troy Tulowitzki's relay home was off target and Kemp slid in with the tying run.
"We've seen Matt do it before and it's part of Coors Field," manager Don Mattingly said. "You have to play so deep. Matt's got pretty good speed and Tulo usually throws a strike there. He doesn't get the same throw he usually gets off. We've got to take a chance there."
The Rockies then staged a rally of their own.
Jamey Wright (1-1) walked the first two batters he faced in the Colorado ninth and Jonathan Herrera bunted them over. The Dodgers brought in an extra infielder from the outfield, but it didn't matter as Giambi, batting for Dexter Fowler, met Elbert with a shot to center field.
It was the eighth pinch-hit homer of Giambi's career and fifth as a member of the Rockies.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity," Giambi said. "That's what I'm here for, try to get those big hits."
Mattingly was livid with a call by Tim Welke at first that ended a threat in the sixth. With a runner on, Hairston sent a roller into the hole that third baseman Chris Nelson snared and came up throwing. But his throw was off target and pulled Todd Helton more than a foot off the bag.
Welke called Hairston out and Mattingly ran from the dugout with his arms extended in exasperation. He had words with Welke, before pleading with plate umpire Paul Schrieber, who might've had a better angle. The call stood and the inning was over.
"It really doesn't matter at this point," Mattingly said after the game. "I think he knows he missed it. I think Helton told him he was off the bag. We had a chance to get a run there. I just don't think he realized he came off the bag."
The attendant at the umpires' clubhouse said the umpires declined comment.
NOTES: Despite his prodigious offensive numbers, Kemp was walked intentionally for the first time this season in the third. ... The Dodgers have an off day on Thursday before beginning a three-game series in Chicago against the Cubs.